JOHANNESBURG-(MaraviPost)— Malawi President Arthur Peter Mutharika, on Monday urged African leaders to strive for unity in Africa, and not to allow national boundaries to be an excuse for divisions.
Mutharika made the remarks in Johannesburg, South Africa during the opening of the Pan-African Parliament session.
His remarks come amidst disputes between Malawi and Tanzania over ownership of the Lake Malawi, which since the colonial time, has been entirely owned by Malawi.
“This Parliament is founded on the principles of Pan-Africanism. Since the 1960s, be it in the Diaspora or here at home, African people have always aspired to pursue a common goal. In those days, Black Americans and Africans here on the continent, understood themselves as sons and daughters of one Africa, and always saw a common goal to pursue.
“It was on the same spirit of Pan-Africanism, that the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was founded. This is where the idea of African Unity comes from. We believe in standing together as a united front. We believe that united, we are a rock, divided, we are sand,” said Mutharika.
He added: “Our national boundaries should never be an excuse for division. I have used the word excuse, because excuses are not reasons anyway. From the 1890 Heligoland Treaty to the 1964 Resolution on Border Disputes among African States by the OAU, there has never been a reason for disrespecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of nations. Africa did not come to be what it is, by mistake. It is then wise to remember that we co-exist peacefully because our forefathers, who founded the countries we govern today, valued unity, in spite of our boundaries.”
In an apparent reference to the Lake Malawi wrangle, Mutharika mentioned former president of Tanzania Julius Nyerere, as one of the forefathers who pledged to respect the borders sketched by colonialism in European capitals.
“In 1964, we all pledged that we will respect the borders we found by colonialism. In Resolution 17(1) of the First Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the OAU, all member states solemnly pledged and declared ‘to respect the borders existing on their achievement of national independence.’ The most outstanding of those forefathers, was Julius Nyerere, who sponsored the resolution and led Tanzania in playing an active role in respecting the territorial integrity we inherited from colonialism,” he said.
On economic growth, the Malawi leader said the youth and women, must be given room to participate in the economic growth endeavours, if Africa is to register meaningful economic growth.
He said women constitute almost half of the African population, therefore, women empowerment, is a vehicle for economic growth.
“In fact, there is no vehicle that can move when half of its wheels are not moving. Therefore, we have no choice, but to promote women empowerment. And women empowerment must begin with investing in the girl child of Africa,” he said.
He further said Africa, being the youngest continent as the majority of the people are the youth, youth empowerment, must be one of the objectives to be addressed in the parliament.